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Menstrual health programme gains medical recognition

11 April 2017

New Zealand menstrual health education programme gains medical recognition


Research findings from Endometriosis New Zealand’s world-leading teenage menstrual health education programmed, called me (Menstrual Health and Endometriosis), has now been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, marking a major milestone for the organisation.

The report, called “Endometriosis education in schools: A New Zealand model examining the impact of an education program in schools on early recognition of symptoms suggesting endometriosis” is the first piece of literature of its kind in the world which examines the outcomes of a health education programme in schools and assesses whether it makes a difference.

Endometriosis New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Deborah Bush said she’s incredibly proud of the achievement and hopes this will increase knowledge about the disease and change health outcomes for the 1-in-10 girls and women globally, who have endometriosis.

“We’ve always known how important the me programme is but to have its findings published in a medical journal is truly wonderful. This research shows the world how education is key to recognising symptoms early and intervening in a timely manner, especially when you consider 27 per cent of girls are sometimes or always missing school because of distressing menstrual symptoms,” said Ms Bush.

This research shows that “consistent delivery of a menstrual health education program in schools increases adolescent student awareness of endometriosis. In addition, there is suggestive evidence that in a geographical area of consistent delivery of the program, a shift in earlier presentation of young women to a specialised health service is observed.”

There is currently an average eight-year delay in getting a diagnosis of endometriosis and Ms Bush hopes this research can be the catalyst in reducing that time.

“It’s not acceptable that girls have their schooling and lifestyle compromised because of distressing menstrual symptoms which may be suggestive of endometriosis. The impact of this can affect lifestyle, schooling, careers, relationships and potentially her fertility downstream. It places a huge burden on health services and the economy.

“The me programme also encourages an open conversation about menstrual health and endometriosis between girls and their friends, families and medical professionals which helps break down stigmas and barriers to accessing the help they need.” continued Ms Bush.

The me programme started in 1997 and has since been delivered to hundreds of thousands of students around the country. During the past 12 months me has been presented to students in Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Marlborough and Nelson, Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Auckland.

ENZ also offers a range of other support and education services, including a workplace programme and free resources. More details can be found on www.nzendo.org.nz

ENDS

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